Happiness may slow aging and improve health

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Awww, don’t these two friends look so happy?

According to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, being happy is linked to more physical activity and overall increased health.

Researchers studied about 3,200 participants who were 60 years old or over, for 8 years. During that time, the volunteers were asked to report how much they enjoyed life by rating statements such as “I enjoy the things that I do” and “I enjoy the company of others.” The study also involved interviewing the participants to see how physically active they were, and whether they have trouble with tasks such as getting out of bed, getting dressed, or bathing.

Based on the results, individuals who reported higher levels of happiness were much more active as they got older. Meanwhile, the unhappiest participants in the study were more likely to have trouble with physical activities. They were also more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and depression.

“This is not because the happier people are in better health, or younger, or richer, or have more healthy lifestyles at the outset, since even when we take these factors into account, the relationship persists,” said Andrew Steptoe, director of Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care at University College London.

The researchers hope their results will encourage people to focus on their well-being, especially at older ages.

Featured image courtesy of Anthony Will Photos on Flickr. Image of smiling friends courtesy of Eflon on Flickr.